There is no doubt that election is basically a game of numbers determined by eligible citizens who turnout to vote on election day and thus any act either by omission or commission that leads to the slightest mistake in collation of election results could potentially jeopardize the process. As a matter of fact, even an honour mistake by electoral officials especially in the imputing and collation of election results could have an impact on the overall outcome of the elections. In this vein, any effort to ensure an effective training of electoral officers on simplified and accurate collation process will go a long way in boosting citizens confidence and promoting accountability in the process.
Since the introduction of the INEC Result Viewing (IREV) Portal, a total of 128, 994 accounts have been opened by IREV users. These numbers will increase in 2023 as more Nigerians will be interested in the outcome of the election at every polling unit. While the training of the Ad-hoc staff has been delayed due to the off-cycle elections and the legal implications that have risen from the previous Election training manuals and guidelines, it is important for INEC to collaborate with the right professionals in other to safe the nation from future judicial disaster that seems to take power from the polls and allocate to who the judgment favors.
In the next 23 days INEC must as a matter of urgency collaborate with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) Districts across the states and the Federal capital Territory to train its adhoc staff on completing the results sheets at the polling units and ward collation centers. To reduce bureaucracy, these collaborations can be made between the Districts and the Resident Electoral Commissioners in the various states. This will enable ICAN to mobilize members across its districts who will simplify the result recording on form EC8A so that the ad-hoc staff( especially Presiding Officers) can have a full understanding on how to compute accurately the eight basic elements in the form ( Number of voters on the register, Number of Accredited voters, Number of ballot papers issued to the polling unit, Number of unused ballot papers, Number of spoiled ballot papers, Number of rejected ballots, number of total votes (total valid votes cast for all parties) and total number of used ballot papers ).
INEC must be intentional in averting and reducing post-election violence that may occur because of this computation. Favoritism, Nepotism, and mediocracy must be eliminated across the 36 states and the FCT if INEC is willing to regain the confidence of Nigerians and conduct a credible election. The outcome of the Election tribunal in Osun should serve as an ‘Expo' to INEC on what will be the outcome of the elections that will be conducted in the 176,846 polling units across the nation.
As stated by the chairman of INEC, Professor Yakubu Mahmood in his keynote address on the occasion of the release of the Election Result Analysis Dashboard report in Abuja ‘We also encourage other organizations to partner with INEC on this or other aspects of the electoral process and to assure you of our willingness to collaborate towards making our Electoral process what we all aspire to make it, participatory, secure, transparent, credible and verifiable. The chairman must match his words with action by ensuring this collaboration which will come at no cost to both parties is achieved. INEC can also partner with relevant Departments in various tertiary institutions where the membership capacity of ICAN is unable to provide the required manpower.
Public trust is essential for any successful deployment of electoral technologies. The introduction of the IREV into the framework for Election result management has transformed public perception of the accuracy and credibility of election results. INEC must try to achieve 100% or nothing in the quality of results that will be uploaded from the 176,846 polling units across the federation.
Daniel Mkpume is a Research and Public Policy Alumni of the University of Jos, at present he works with Yiaga Africa where he has been involved in the deployment of the Parallel Vote Tabulation for off- cycle Governorship Elections and Presidential Elections in Nigeria. He tweets @danpume